According to foreign media reports, Google is loosening control of its core Chrome browser, which will help Microsoft, Samsung and brave build competitors while promoting its own network vision. In the past six months, Google has ushered in a new external developer as the leader of its chromium project.
The alphabet unit also allows outsiders to use its previous proprietary software development system, as well as external features - even if Google doesn't integrate them into its flagship Chrome browser.
We know that chromium is open source software, which means that anyone can modify and use it. However, even for open source projects, it is difficult for outsiders to persuade organizers to accept their changes and additions, which makes it more difficult to contribute and benefit.
Google took pains to draw attention to these changes at the blinkon conference earlier this week. "It's really cool to see so many people and groups with different priorities coming together to find solutions that not only meets their respective agendas, but also advances the common goal of improving the web," said danyao Wang, an engineer at Google Chrome
Opening to the outside world is in line with Google's broader network strategy. These are both allies and competitors. Chrome based browsers spread Google's Web technology, which is the software foundation of web applications based on rich interaction, rather than static web pages and simple forms. Google's view of this capability as crucial to the future of the web is in stark contrast to Apple's view. This familyiPhoneManufacturers do not want web applications to inherit the capabilities of mobile and desktop applications, and this power expansion threatens their rich IOS ecosystem.
Apple and its ally Mozilla worry that there are too many security risks for web applications to communicate with USB and Bluetooth devices or access PC file systems. Google and its allies say web apps are inherently safer than local apps, given browser sandbox protection and security in a harsh environment without app store commentators checking for malware. The latter said that limiting advanced interactivity to local applications would damage the long-term health of web pages.
Google opens up chromium
Expanding governance is the most important change in the chromium project. Before the change, Google's engineers mainly decided whether chromium would accept or reject the major new features. The new nomination process, which began earlier this year, allows outsiders to enter the core circle. In March this year, Manuel Rego Casanovas from igalia open source development company joined the project through this.
"We look forward to more representation in the coming year," Alex Russell, who is responsible for Chrome's web standards work, said in a statement
Chrome project leaders also accept features from other companies, even if they won't be added to chrome. Yoav Weiss, who spoke on blinkon, pointed out that a good example is the storageaccess interface, a privacy related project launched by Apple Safari browser team to manage how websites store and access certain types of data. Google said allowing non chrome features was a deliberate decision to allow other developers to design chrome based browsers to achieve their priorities.
Chrome allies don't have to offer all the web features Google likes. Like brave, it removes some features, such as webusb. However, most of the chrome code base will be added to non chrome browsers to further advance Google's vision.
Brave CEO Brendan Eich wants Google to go further in sharing control. "Chromium playing field and rules are still clearly biased towards Google ," Eric said.
Help developers build chromium
Google also now allows outsiders to use its previous in-house software to build a system called Goma, which can use the power of Google's data center to build chromium. Typically, this takes a few hours, which obviously slows down the iteration speed of developers eager to experiment with new features. Google says Goma will make more people contribute to chromium.
Google can go a step further and donate chromium to a neutral foundation, which is the approach that Google and other companies used in early open source projects. Among them, the Linux foundation is responsible for the core of Linux operating system. Google donated its kubernetes data center software to the cloud native Computing Foundation in 2015. Llvm is an important software building tool developed under the supervision of apple, and now it is run by the llvm foundation.
Google said it had no plans to set up a chromium foundation and had no requests from outside contributors.
Although Microsoft didn't say whether it wanted to see a neutral foundation, it said it was working closely with chromium team members to "combine the best of chromium with the best of Microsoft."
Non Google Chrome participation is increasing
Igalia leads the non Google camp in terms of changes to the codebase. But Weiss points out that Microsoft is rapidly closing the gap. Since November last year, 161 Microsoft developers have made 1835 changes to chromium that improve battery life, web accessibility for people with visual impairment, webxr virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities, and modern styles of web controls and forms. Microsoft has made 4443 changes to chrome since it first joined chromium in December 2018.
"Other companies are increasing their investments in chromium and web platforms, which is great," Weiss said.